22nd September

Bream bubbles on Assaroe Lake

A golden 5.25lb bream. Photo Brendan Connolly

A golden 5.25lb bream. Photo Brendan Connolly

Brendan Connolly

One summer’s evening, two anglers rowed home after a day’s pike fishing on Assaroe Lake. The lake was flat calm and undisturbed and as they glided by tree- lined banks, they noticed several tracks of bubbles on the surface.

Resting the oars, they took a closer look; the tracks snaked their way across the glassy surface. They then saw that new bubbles were appearing at one end of the trail. Intrigued, they watched as the bubbles popped up, moving along seemingly purposefully at a slow but steady pace parallel to each other. They concluded that the bubbles must be coming from bream feeding on the bottom.

Bream, or Abramis brama, have a down-turned mouth with which they feed on the bottom, hoovering up debri and food. This disturbance releases bubbles which, on a calm day, can be seen on the surface. Bream grow to an impressive size; the Irish record stands at 12 lb 3 oz, and the specimen weight for bream is set at 7.5 lb.

Breadcrumbs, worms, maggots
A year later the two anglers remembered this, and bought breadcrumb for ground bait, and worms and pink and white maggots for bait. By boat they set out to the spot where they had seen the bubbles. Anchoring the boat from both ends, they added water to the breadcrumbs and kneaded balls of about the size of an orange, which they threw in either side of the boat.

Each angler had two rods. One rod fished on the bottom with a small lead weight and a single hook baited with a worm. The other was rigged with a float, held upright with some lead shots and a small number 14 hook, baited with two maggots, one white and one pink.

The anglers used four metre (12 foot) telescopic rods for float fishing. These longer rods gave sufficient distance between the float and the hook so that the hook was near the bottom, while when raising the rod, fish could still be easily netted.

Fishing on opposite sides of the boat, the anglers sat back and took in the quiet lake with its wooded banks reflected in the water, waiting for the fish to find the groundbait. No telltale bubbles were seen. After a while, one of the floats moved slightly, and then shot down out of view. The angler lifted the rod and felt a fish. It was a nice sized perch which he slid into the keepnet. The fish had arrived.

The battles begins
He cast the float rod out again, followed by a scatter of maggots from a bait catapult. After a few minutes the float once again zipped down, pulled by a fine sized roach, which was followed by another two in quick succession.

So far, all the fish had been  caught by one angler on his side of the boat, the other angler had not yet got a bite. No more fish showed for a while but then suddenly, the rod with the ledgered worm on the other side of the boat gave a twitch. The line straightened for a moment, but then went slack again. The line once again tightened and went slack again, but then the rod tip was pulled in a tight arc.

Quickly the second angler took the rod and felt a strong fish. This had to be a bream. Slowly, he reeled in the line  however the fish gave plenty of resistance but gradually came to the surface. The large golden-bronze side of a bream swirled at the surface, to powerfully turn and dive out of view again. Slowly and carefully the angler reeled in again and some minutes later he slid a large 5¼ lb bream into the waiting landing net!

Bubble trails
This was what they had come for. They threw more groundbait into the water  to hold the bream shoal in that spot. With much expectation the rod was reset. The same rod again was pulled into  an arch and another fine bream was netted. At this point a short trail of bubbles could be  seen near the boat. While all this was happening on one side of the boat, the angler on the other side was regularly catching roach.

Two more bream were caught, but to the anglers’ surprise, only bream were caught on one side of the boat and no roach, while  on the other side only roach and no bream were caught!

The afternoon produced two respectable keepnets of fish with a total weight of around 20 lb. After carefully releasing the fish from both keepnets, the anglers returned home satisfied that they had succesfully confirmed the source of the bubble trails on Assaroe Lake.


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